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Knight Foundation grants boost two Philly art-innovation projects

Monument Lab and Temple's Institute on Disabilities will receive $50,000 each to pilot digital products aimed at growing (and engaging) their audiences.

Duane Linklater’s "In Perpetuity," a Monument Lab art installation. (Courtesy photo)

Twelve institutions across the country will receive $50,000 each from the Knight Foundation in a push to explore the intersection of arts and technology, and two of them are in Philly.

At Temple University’s Institute on Disabilities, in collaboration with Malvern, Pa.-based People’s Light Project, the funds will help make theater and performance art more accessible for the Deaf, hard of hearing and non-English-speaking communities by integrating augmented reality and smart captioning systems into performances.

For public art and history initiative Monument Lab, the grant will help encourage public input on new forms of historical monuments through the creation of a digital tool that lets users identify locations, topics and create designs for potential public art and monuments.

Last February, the foundation launched a call for ideas to back projects that helped universities, creators and cultural institutions infuse tech into their approach to audience-building. Several of the projects are led by cultural organizations, while other winning ideas stemmed from tech organizations like Wikimedia and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Art, Science & Technology.

“While the importance of arts institutions in building community remains unchanged, the preferences and expectations of audiences have transformed in the age of technology,” said Victoria Rogers, Knight Foundation vice president for arts, in a statement. “Museum-goers increasingly demand personalized, interactive and shareable experiences. These projects help pave a way forward for cultural organizations to expand and command their use of technology to connect with and inspire audiences.”

Leaders of each project will convene throughout the process to learn innovation techniques and test ideas, as the grants also include access to training in innovation methods from Knight Foundation instructors. They will then gather in April 2019 for a demo day to share findings from the process.

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